I remember the day I learned I was pregnant as if it was yesterday. I went into mamma bear mode immediately, and my #1 priority was protecting the baby. Like many other expecting women, I had multiple questions about what I needed to do or avoid for my baby to grow safely in my belly. One of those questions was: is it safe to have sex while pregnant?
We hear a lot of rumors about sex during pregnancy, and some are terrifying. I wrote all my questions on a piece of paper and discussed them with different specialists, including my doctor and a pelvic floor physiotherapist. And here are their answers:
Is sex during pregnancy safe for my baby?
It is safe to have sex during your whole pregnancy. Many things protect your baby: the amniotic fluid, the uterine walls, and the cervix. Unlike what some people think, it is impossible to "poke" the baby when having sex.
I know I was particularly stressed during the first twelve weeks of my pregnancy because this is when the risk for miscarriages is at its highest. However, current studies on miscarriage show no connection between sex during early pregnancy and pregnancy loss. Therefore, if you want to have sex during your first trimester, you can do so without fear!
In short, my doctor said it was perfectly safe to have sex during my whole pregnancy unless I developed complications down the line.
What happens to my sex drive during pregnancy?
Well, it depends. I know some women whose sex drive skyrocketed during pregnancy, but the opposite can happen. As for me, I would say it stayed about the same, except when I experienced intense pregnancy symptoms. During those times, sex was the last thing on my mind. From what I understand, which category you fall into is pretty much luck of the draw.
But why the high sex drive? Hormonal changes and increased blood flow to the labia, clitoris, and vagina make you more responsive to sexual stimulation, and you might also have stronger orgasms. I started noticing a difference in the second semester. It was definitely a bonus to having sex while pregnant because the orgasms felt better and lasted longer.
Sex drive can stay the same for the whole nine months or vary based on the trimester. In the first trimester, I had every pregnancy symptom you can think of, like nausea, vomiting, intense fatigue, bloating, breast tenderness, and heartburn. I felt so sick all the time. It was like the worst hangover of your life that never ends. During that time, my sex drive was probably at an all-time low.
The second trimester is when I had the fewest pregnancy symptoms and the most energy. My sex drive was at its highest, especially since my orgasms started to get more intense around week 20.
The third trimester is the most physically uncomfortable because the baby is taking up a lot of room. My pelvic pain started to be pretty bad towards the end because I was carrying low. I had what some call "lighting crotch", which can only be described as an electric shock to your private parts. So, let's just say this did not help with the sex drive!
What are the best positions for sex during pregnancy?
All sexual positions are safe during pregnancy, but they may not all be comfortable. For example, I hated having my partner on top because of my growing belly and sore breasts. Positions that allow for deeper penetration also became more painful with time.
The most comfortable positions during sex were lying on my side, facing my partner, and from behind. Using pillows for support helped me be more comfortable, especially at the end.
I experience cramping or bleeding after sex: is it normal?
Light cramping after sex is common and usually nothing to worry about. I remember panicking the first time it happened, but my physician told me it was normal.
Sexual activity combined with increased blood flow to the pelvic area during pregnancy causes uterine contractions after sex. My cramping rarely lasted longer than 30 minutes, and deep breathing and back massages helped relieve my pain.
Post-sex bleeding happens most commonly in the third trimester. It is no cause for alarm either. The cervix is softer and more engorged during pregnancy, which can cause spotting after sexual activity. It is even more likely to happen if deep penetration was involved.
If you experience spotting after sex earlier in the pregnancy, do not panic, everything is probably fine. However, I recommend talking to your doctor to get their professional opinion and advice.
Do I need to use protection during sex if I get pregnant?
I was in a committed, monogamous relationship, and my partner did not have any sexually transmitted disease (STD). Therefore, my doctor said there was no need for protection in my case. Since STDs can cause health problems and are associated with birth defects, I would use protection if you are not in a monogamous relationship or if your partner has a known STD.
Are there any times that I should avoid sex while pregnant?
My doctor said if I developed any of those complications, I would have to stop having sex:
- Heavy bleeding or unexplained bleeding
- Amniotic fluid leaks
- Placenta previa, meaning the placenta covers the cervical opening
- Incompetent cervix (the cervix opens prematurely)
I did not have any risk factors for premature birth or premature labor, but that would be another reason to abstain from sex during pregnancy.
A final word...
Overall, sex during pregnancy was a positive experience for me. My sex drive went up and down, but I made the most out of it when it was high. We tried different positions as they are all safe, but had to make some adjustments towards the end, like using pillows, to make the whole experience more comfortable.
Having sex while pregnant can be a little stressful and even intimidating. Your changing body, the hormonal fluctuations, and the discomfort can be overwhelming. Take it one day at a time and do not put pressure on yourself.
I did not feel bad when I had a lower sex drive because I was creating a whole human from scratch that my partner and I would love forever. However, intimacy was still important for me, so we found other ways, like kissing, cuddling, and massaging. Communication was also key, and we had many long conversations that brought us closer together.